Policy Platform

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There is significant untapped potential for energy efficiency in West Virginia. Poorly insulated homes and buildings, inefficient appliances, and inefficient codes for new buildings all combine to cost citizens and businesses millions of dollars per year in wasted energy. Given the rapid increase in energy prices over the past several years, residents could benefit immensely from the lower power bills that would result from energy efficiency.

Energy Efficient West Virginia (EEWV) supports the adoption of the following policies to achieve greater energy efficiency in West Virginia:

  1. An Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that sets annual targets for energy demand reduction in West Virginia

  2. Adoption of energy efficient building codes for residential and commercial construction.

EEWV calls for an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard that would yield energy savings of 20-30% by 2025. Establishing such a standard would place responsibility on either utilities or a third-party agency to administer and implement a comprehensive suite of cost-effective energy efficiency programs to meet the target. Program administrators should be given both financial incentives for exceeding the target and penalties if they fall short.

If energy efficiency programs are to be administered by utilities, EEWV calls for a set of complementary policies to re-align utility incentives with the goal of promoting energy efficiency. A traditional utility's business model incentivizes increasing sales and building out capital-intensive generation infrastructure. Thus, EEWV recommends the state implement “decoupling” regulation (to separate utility profits from sales) and provide shareholder incentives if utilities are to implement programs. A recent study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that for a typical utility, ratepayers still receive 70-90% of the net benefits from energy efficiency portfolios that include the costs of decoupling and shareholder incentives to the utility.

Energy Efficient West Virginia also recommends the adoption of more energy efficient building codes. Constructing buildings to be energy efficiency up-front is far more cost-effective than trying to improve energy efficiency after construction. Since buildings last for decades, building this infrastructure correctly from the beginning is essential to achieving long-term energy efficiency goals. Investment in an energy efficient building is a long-term benefit to residential and commercial customers who will benefit from lower energy bills. For example, California, which has its own stringent set of building energy codes, found that these building energy codes and the state's appliance codes had together saved consumers more than $56 billion in energy costs since 1978 and had avoided the need to build fifteen new power plants.

Energy Efficient West Virginia recommends that the West Virginia legislature mandate the adoption of the 2009 IECC code for residential buildings and the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 code for commercial buildings, and to mandate the adoption of all new updates to the IECC and ASHRAE codes within a year of their becoming available. The 2009 IECC code and the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 code are the latest versions of the most commonly used codes for residential and commercial buildings in the United States. West Virginia also needs to increase efforts to ensure that building codes are enforced, both through reviews of building plans and on-site inspections.